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Everything posted by vmilor

  1. I don't think a restaurant which buys Safeway level ingredients, cook them indifferently, and then gets good reviews from so many people who are hankering for a "real French bistro" experience and then charge top $s for their crap will either close. And come to think that people make lines (mostly English speaking but no pun intended) for the crap. I heard good things about both Les Ormes and Repaire.
  2. I have never met Bux in person but heard very good things about him from his friends Pedro and Rogelio, both of whom held Bux at a very high regard not only as a dining companion but as a human being. I have exchanged emails with him once, in early 2003. He had had a granddaughter and I inquired about his ideas and recommendations regarding how much to cater to children's follies and foibles when it comes to eating (or when children refuse to eat). Our own daughter is now almost 5 years old. At any rate, Bux wrote to me very thorough and well thought out letters, generously sharing his experience and knowledge. He seemed very proud about his daughter who (he told me) is a food book editor and his emphasis on having family dinners where all members "meet" at the table once a day proved in my eyes that he was a responsible and loving father and family man. His premature loss is shocking. My condolences to all who have met him and esp. to his wife and daughter. It is sad that he won't be around to see and inluence his grandchild but certainly his values will continue to guide those who love him.
  3. I actually had the "distilled lobster" dish. it is interesting to note that if you pour very hot water on raw lobster you will get the same result. This somehow is the epitome of Subiyana'a cooking: many of his inventions are pointless. Some are even value detracting in the sense that the sum is less than the quality of ingredients used. I would actually have expected him to lose a star actually.... But he is a very nice fellow, a true humanist with a big heart and smile. Besides if the idea is to reckon with the culinary heritage of the Basque region, why not ??? They deserve it. Late recognition. But let's call a spade a spade. Akelare should not be a 3 star restaurant.
  4. vmilor

    Michelin 2007

    Well, Francois Simon says in another article on the subject entitled “Tempest in a glass of water,” that 2007 is a warm-up for 2008 when they're going to get tougher. The rest of the piece really just tells of the reactions of the whinners and losers. ← Thanks John for bringing this to the public's attention. So Grand Vefour is also losing their third star. A very wise decision. The other message is also exemplary. Great restaurants should limit the number of couverts. L'Astrance limits it to 25, even though they can make 50. Michelin is rewarding this attitude. One should draw the line between glorified brasseries and Haute cuisine. This is why Taillevent is losing. Soliveres may be as good as a chef as Barbot but the former is victimized by the profit maximization strategy of the boss, whereas the latter (Barbot is actually one of the ownners) is rewarded for its very French (always at odds with Anglo-Saxon capitalism) view of quality before other considerations. Bravo! Even if, IMHO, Barbot is still delivering **+ and not quite 3, there is nothing wrong giving him 3. Hope he will live up to that. I think he will.
  5. No. No. Not worth it Not worth it. No need to drive to Campaspero. As worthless as Pacaud's game pie. For lamb brain go to Cibreo or come to Istanbul!
  6. I don't think anybody said such a thing Pedro. As a rule of thumb, I believe that, if one wants to undermine somebody, one should exaggerate about his/her abilities and then the rest will unfold....the person in question will look unpleasant to his/her supporters, his foes will be mobilized and his friends will be alienated. It works in business and politics and this is a good way to poke at inflated egos who believe everybody else is stupid. They end up getting isolated. On the other hand, it is true that, given one's background or taste, he/she can give more weight to the words and judgments of some people more than others. For instance, when signor Espinosa shifts out of his diplomatic gear and actually makes a statement about a restaurant in Spain(in his characteristic euphemistic, understated way) I always listen, or ignore at my peril
  7. Roca and Aduriz got very strong reviews in gastroville. Actually Roca was compared and contrasted against Adria. I can only speak for myself but I have one sole aim when I eat out: PLEASURE. I would like to rave about every single meal I have and praise all chefs. It does not matter under which label they categorize themselves or the public categorizes them. I was a bit disappointed with my last meal at Can Roca though---but still I hold Roca brothers at very high regard. My major disagreement is that I don't think cooking is an art form. It is a wrong analogy to compare chefs with major schools in the development of Western painting. This is not to say that great chefs should be less esteemed than great artists. One can not compare apples and oranges.
  8. vmilor


    Here is my review of a recent meal there for those who are interested: click here
  9. My whole point is that the concept of being ingredient driven and avant-garde (or whatever term one wishes to use) are not mutually exclusive ←
  10. I think the disagreement is narrowing down. "Top" ingredient and luxury are 2 different things. Thanks to milla for the correct interpretation. My apologies if I was unclear. One can see my criticism of the FL and the "caviar" quality to see that I am not easily swayed by luxury ingredients. On the contrary. In gastroville reviews my partner Mikael and I are esp. on the lookout for chefs who use second rate luxury or expensive ingredients and charge astronomical prices. This said, I confess that, according to my parents, I loved beluga caviar from Iran when I was seven and I would pester them to buy it more often at a time when I had no understanding of scarcity and price. Fortunately I also loved fries then which they provided me on a more daily basis! (I still love fries, esp. cooked with horse fat!) My remaining disagreement with docsonz is that, of the 4 restaurants he names, I know El Bulli (reviewed in gastroville) and Arzak--not WD-50 and Alinea. I think the quality of ingredients leaves a lot to be desired in these restaurants. Arzak used to be much better under the father's reign. Now it is the level of a one star restaurant. But they still have some special things which they reserve for best clients. I won't quite call Arzak an avant garde restaurant though. Akelare, Mugaritz and Berasatequi are all, more avant garde than Arzak if one is looking to name the leading modern Basque restaurants in Spain. Gagnaire would be my example for avant-garde cooking which is also extremely ingredient conscious. I don't always find his concoctions superlative, indeed some are inedible. But he is a great chef and when he puts everything together he continues to astonish me. As for Ferran's new statement about using less known parts of vegetables and animals, I think this is a good thing. Chinese, for instance, eat all parts of the animal. I esp. find Americans too shy in their eating habits. Very few eat any offal, even lamb consumption is very low here and some even consider lamb to be exotic. It is chicken, and chicken and chicken. On the other hand, before 3 Michelin star chefs started imitating each other and creating fads, French chefs used to make use of all parts of the beast, with staggering results. Now the only multi star chef who cooks a tete de veau, as far as I know, is good old Vigato at the new at his new and classy Apicius. No longer this is a favorite with French when some 3 stars are unable to fill up their rooms. On the other hand, here I am speculating and prove me wrong, I don't trust Ferran Adria to present less edible parts of the beasts in their full glory, in a non manipulated form a la Gagnaire or Vigato. He caters his cooking too much to the international clientele, favoring sweetness and acidity. His cooking lacks clarity and focus. I am also disheartened to read that he is in favor of importing major ingredients. Long distance transportation takes a toll on the quality and, in this form of sourcing, one can never establish long term relations based on trust with the suppliers. What Ferran is defending and practicing, essentially is the opposite of the philosophy of some great Catalunyan restaurants such as Can Jubany, Con Fabes, Hispania. But, being a good businessman neither Ferran nor anybody can publicy state that the issue of ingredients is a secondary concern for them. All said, if one day Ferran decides to cook a whole becada or a good old shoulder of lamb or cabrito or langouste, what have you, and to show that he can imprint his stamp on it, I would be more than willing to try.
  11. vmilor

    Michelin 2007

    I certainly agree with Le Cinq. Two stars is too much. Should be one at best--but there are many better one stars. Taillevent, 2 stars, is about right. Darroze, if correct, and if it is driven by gender, is an act of disrespect to other women chefs. They should not get a star in the first place. All the new 3 stars (Le Pre Catelan, l'Astrance and Le Meurice) have been the upper end 2 stars where, at least in the last 2 years, one could have dined better than the second rate category of the 3 stars. They have forgotten Les Ambassadeurs though. Given star inflation, I think Michelin has to create a new category of 4 star!
  12. Was the raw fish fresh or frozen? Is the new law under effect?
  13. Ferran is right. He gave more or less the same presentation at Alimentaria last year, and most people only woke up when the fireworks began. However, these ideas about sourcing, both Dan's and Ferran's, are central concerns to the future of haute cuisine, or any cuisine, for that matter. ← So, is this a confession by Ferran? He, 6-7 years ago, stopped putting the premium on sourcing top products. He is also unable or unwilling to cook whole pieces(of meat and fish) as Santi does and without which one can not pretend to put a premium on sourcing. On the other hand, it may be to everybody's benefit that the pendulum is swinging back....Spain particularly has a lot to gain from it because they still have great products.
  14. I think you're referring to 5 à Taula, the collective firm in charge of restaurant reviewing at La Vanguardia, the Catalonian newspaper. ← Exactly, thanks Pedro. In the end, there is not a single restaurant in the world for which there would be a uniform opinion. I just wanted to point at that there are some Spanish food authorities (I don't like the term but can't find anything better) who think very highly of l'Esguard. I was personally told that other experts can not come to terms with this restaurant because it blows away all our preconceptions and acquired norms about what "food" is supposed to taste like. It was also mentioned that the chef is a very shy individual who is a genius but does not hobnob with celebrities and/or food writers.
  15. I guess that this is because Miguel Sanchez Romera doesn't want to appear on any guide and has asked to be deleted from all the guides. ← Interesting that Michelin hasn't complied. ← Chances are that he asked to be deleted because nobody ranked him as high as what he thought he deserves. On the other hand, one the Toula reviewers (am I pronouncing correctly?) think that he is the most creative chef in Spain and that his food does not just look beautiful but is also delicious. I find it interesting that he did not partake in chef circles but is a kind of odd man. Apparently he was an avid eater like some of us and he was a very frequent traveller to Crissier when Girardet was cooking . Well, that shows good taste!
  16. vmilor


    In general, summer is the least interesting season ingredient wise. Esp. when a restaurant is season conscious (all pay lip service but few mean it). This said, you can eat very well in summer there. For instance the Clintons and the Chiracs dined there on July 29 (96), and, last I spoke to him, Bill was happy. Apparently he ate feuillantine de langoustines, while Hilary enjoyed the Pastella de thon aux abricots secs. Bill had croustillant d'agneau and Hilary opted for Gougenette de sole et de girolle. Were I there (perhaps it was not available), I would have chosen "navarin de homard de bretagne aux pommes de terre fondantes". Best "new potatoes" on earth and this is a lobster dish which makes any baby Maine lobster based chi chi dish in American restaurants (such as French Laundry, Per Se) taste like bland cotton in comparison. Tarte fine sablee will be on the menu. Summer is also the time for peach and abricot. How about "Soupe de peches blanches a la menthe". Hilary enjoyed it very much You can then be back in fall, and winter and spring to experience differences.
  17. vmilor


    Here is my review of l'Ambroisie from a very recent meal: click here
  18. What does the Campsa guide give to Ibai and Etxebarri? Are they anonymous or known to the restaurant? Do they pay their bill?
  19. I had a very good dinner on sunday, October 23 at Bristol. My friend and gastroville partner Degusto has given a 16/20 to the restaurant a year ago. My meal was even better, possibly one point higher and it delivers at the higher end of 2 star(but not as good as Can Roca or Cordeillan Bages or Chateauvieux, all 2 stars). The cuisine is very calculated and attentive to detail. It is also consistent throughout. My one qualm is that because Frechon is eyeing the third star (he will probably get it this year) he is playing a bit safe and deemphasizing cuisine bourgeoise aspects that he is very good at. I am also against cooking duck "sous vide" and the very good duck dish there stood no comparison whatsoever with the sublime Colvert duck we had at L'Ambroisie one day earlier. Service there is very good and accomodating. The dining room temperature is arranged for ladies who wear sleeveless dresses. I had to take off my jacket during the finest course which is also served hot: queue de boeuf cuite en pot au feu. While taking off my jacket I asked for permission and the first reply by the assistant sommelier was negative pointing out that everybody else wore jackets. I simply shrugged my shoulders quipping that "je m'appelle Milor et suis pas tout le monde". Then the maitre d' walked towards our table smilingly and told me that I was welcome to take off my jacket. My jacket was already hung behind the chair of course. This I thought was a classy gesture on his part. The rest of the meal proceeded smoothly and the service by a young team was even better than the very good food.
  20. Bill, it is great to hear from you. I was missing your posts personally. I even thought that you may be sick (knock the wood). I learned last year at Antine that you were in fine shape and was relieved. I have a question: Do you still like Combal Zero as much? It looks like given my limited days there this year (only 3 days) I will have to choose between Combal and Antine. I went to Renzo upon the recommendation of a father and son team who are locals and whom I met at Cesare, and before they got the star, and I wrote here that the restaurant deserved a star. We went a second time with Robert and his wife. I liked very much their famous veal dish, superb finanziera (is this correct spelling?), Cinta Senese pork, their squab, as well as leek-lumache and the quality of carne crudi and truffles that came with it. The ingredients were first rate. The location did not bother me as it is only 20 mn. drive from Alba and the dining room is comfortable. I also thought that the pasta (gobbi?) was very good but I will not put my reputation on line to say that it is the best ravioli plin I have had. I would actually like to hear from you about your favorite hangouts for classical pasta dishes of the region, esp. plin and tajarin. It has been some time (maybe 3 years) we have been at Flipot. An Italian waiter who was at the French Laundry had recommended it. We went there in the midst of the truffle season, mid November. The town is uninteresting, to put it mildly, but this can not be construed against the restaurant. I don't have my notes with me as I am in Istanbul now and my wife is so busy that she can not even find time to call for doctor appointments let alone find the notes! But I recall that our room in their hotel was very Spartan and, a bit expensive for what it was. I was also dismayed to find out that they did not have Alba truffles. It is strange that a leading restaurant of the region does not serve which is, inarguably, the most famous ingredient of the region, at the height of the season. Fortunately I had purchased one from Alba and they prepared it with eggs and with the classical tajarin. The eggs were good but not as striking as the ones in Cesare or Antine and the tajarin was definitely not on par with Boccondivino or Antine or Giardino di Felicin (the owner there is quite unpleasant though). Then we had another appetizer which was basically a rustic salad with pig ear and pig feet and the dish was sublime. As for the entreees, I can not recall the second one. I remember, however, a duck dish. It was nowhere near the confit of duck or wild duck at Cesare. I remember complaining to my wife that it was a tad overcooked and it was neither as tender as a true Challan duckling and nor as gamey as a Colvert. But I remember liking the vegetables served with it which were probably from the garden. I wish I could remember the second dish and the desserts. It is also clear that the duck you had is much better. 3 years is a long time. Personally your passionate description of Flipot has convinced me to give a second try to it--not during the truffle season though. Oh, yes, I remember that the lady (chef's wife) told me that the locals there are not wealthy like in Alba and this is why they did not have truffles. Perhaps the situation is different now. Hope, we will continue to hear from you....
  21. vmilor

    Alle Testiere

    This jibes very well with my own reporting of Alle Testiere. I had 2 meals there and looking forward to the next one I hope. I thought the post hit all the key points and is very instructive and captures all essentials. It is interesting that my description of moeche will be similar but I liked the dish. Yes, it is mushy but it was very juicy and I thought that the intelligent use of orange flavor and peel balanced the acidity. It is also possible that I have more tolerance for acidity(Troisgros cishes are as acidic) as I drink wine with meals and Luca is a very good sommelier and knows how to pair wine with individual dishes. If this dish is tasted without drinking though, it may come across as unbalanced. I also had Moeche in March and probably they are even better in March. I also like F. Toscana which I recommended in egullet under Venice thread but, to tell the truth, the best Moeche dish (and one of the best seafood dishes on earth) is served in Da Fiore. So many restaurateurs praised the ZATOI and I don't want to die before having them. At the same time I understand that they are so good that the fishermen swallow it all during that 15 days and they never reach the local market!
  22. Thanks for a fantastic report lxt. Some quick comments, questions: 1.I think even those who disagree on other things (such as you and I with respect to El Bulli. I wrote a long and quite negative report), seem to agree that Enoteca Pinchiorri is one place to skip. I still have not heard any positive remark about its cuisine from somebody I trust. 2. I have recently written a report on La Pergola and I may have liked it more than you. I would like to understand more what you mean by 2 of the phrases: "attempting to blow life into still dishes by adorning them with contemporary technical twists, instead of modernizing tradition itself" and "inconsistently coherent cuisine". I am also curious as to how you found out about the year the dishes were created. It is not on the menu. 3. I have eaten at Le Calandre 3 times and last one was the least satisfactory. I like the squab(is not squab a baby pegeon?) but the first 2 times the preparation was more interesting and all pieces were cooked to perfection. Yours and Robert's comments suggest that my last experience was not an aberration and perhaps Le Calandre was better when it had 2 stars and before the expansion project. 4. I am very curious about your Switzerland notes. Some of my favorite places are located there: Pont de Brent, Rochat and Chateauvieux. The last one delivered us 3 superb meals but the last one was not on par--perhaps reflecting the influence of MG on a chef whose talent and looks prove otherwise. Rochat has always been a standard bearer, other than for a brief period after the tragic death of Madame Rochat in a ski accident. Rabaey is a great chef in the modernized tradition type of the way. His preparations for two, be it squab or lamb shoulder or pork are always 3 star+. The only problem is that service was suffering after the departure of their maitre d' Julius. I hope they recovered the lost ground. Your further reports are eagerly awaited! By the way your caviar story and hubby kicking under the table is the most amusing story of the year so far!
  23. Another reason I prefer ordering a la carte is that I find superiour products in Europe compared to the States and I want to take advantage of them by ordering whole roasted meat and game and fish cooked on the bone. Esp. fish dishes served in multistarred restaurants (with exceptions of small fish) are unsatisfactory. One other reason is that I like offal and rustic preparations. Most chefs shift gears to a "safer mode" when they compose tasting menus thinking that they will be ordered by less adventurous clientele. The chefs may be right or wrong but it is their perception. Anectodal evidence also suggests that the type of international clientele that frequents top hotels in Europe shy away from ingredients not found or eaten in their countries. I also derive tremendous satisfaction from studying a menu. Sometimes I detect something interesting in a tasting menu which is not in the carte. I still order a la carte but asked for that dish. For instance at the exquisite Auberge Capelongue I ordered ( and tasted first time) violets, an interesting shellfish that most people, including degusto, hate. 2 weeks ago, at Can Fabes, I ordered the Tocino (pork belly) from the tasting menu. We had a very good meal despite the fact that Santamaria(see the illimunatng interview organized by Pedro was in India! There is also an evolution which may vary from person to person(as in wine taste). I used to order tasting menus in the late 80s when I seriously started fine dining. Over time, I came to conclusion that some of the most rare and interesting ingredients are typically, but of course not exclusively, contained in a la carte dishes. I also found out that, by and large, tasting menus contain more dishes which are prepared in advance whereas some a la carte orders is prepared after you order it.
  24. Unfortunately it is to late to help our friend who went to Le Cinq. I believe I had called it "assembly line haute cuisine" in an earlier post here. To tell the truth I ate in 2 one star, one no star and one 2 star restaurants recently in Dordogne and all of them are better than Le Cinq. Robert has an interesting point and it seems to me that ordering menu degustation in multi starred restaurants anywhere is the worst way to approach the meal. Ordering a la carte does not guarantee a stellar meal but going the degustation route almost always guarantee the least interesting option. There are some exceptions. One is that the chef knows you and your taste and prepares a balanced menu. Second there is the Ducasse (and Cordeillan Bages) format where you can select 3 half portions from the 3 sections of the menu (app. fish and meat) and the price is relatively lower. Third, there are some places where ordering a la carte is not an option. Talking about Cordeillan Bages the chef Thierry Marx delivered a memorable meal 2 weeks ago. It was better than two pf the three star I have eaten during the same week: Bras and Troisgros. Details will have to wait.
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